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Why Don’t Women Have the Priesthood?

Posted by nebula0 on October 3, 2008


Every active Mormon male, when he turns the wise age of 12, receives the Aaronic priesthood.  At 18, he receives the Melchizedek priesthood.  More than that, if he is going to be involved in local leadership, at some point he will be ordained a high priest.  The priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God, and those with the Aaronic priesthood may pass the sacrament, as 12 year old boys do, while the Melchizedek priesthood is necessary for things like the laying on of hands.  The closest women get to the priesthood is to share in the priesthood of their husbands, and a promise in the temple that they will become priestesses and queens to their husbands.  Or, the argument is made that Motherhood is akin to the priesthood, which on the surface of it makes no sense because Motherhood is akin to Fatherhood, not the priesthood which deals with authority to act in the name of God.  The question should naturally arise: why don’t women have the priesthood?  After all, if Mormon theology is going to be so generous as to allow every gentile and Jew male to become a priest (compared to the Bible, wherein only Israelite males of a particular tribe could become priests) why stop there, why not extend it to women too?

If you are to ask this question, you may run into a couple of answers, the most popular one right now goes like: women are naturally more ‘spiritual’ than men, so men need the priesthood to train them and women don’t.  I hope it is obvious to my readers the condescending nature of this argument.  God picks those most incompetent to run his church, really?

A second argument may talk about women being the heart, and men being the head of the home.  Since families are the basic building block of Mormon society, this argument then extends into the more public sphere of ecclesiastical authority.  Women are there to be emotional and spiritual nurturers, men to be the thinkers and planners.  This, as the argument runs, is because men and women are inherently different and that’s just the way it is.  Perhaps there is truth to this, after all, the brains of men and women are different, as is the basic body shape.  But, studies suggest that if anything while men may be better at reading maps and more interested in abstract math in general, women in general make better managers of people.  Because women are better readers of emotion and better at multitasking, they are the natural managers, not men.  Hence, women should be perfectly suited for leadership in church positions, not men.  You don’t get it, the defender of this argument might say, the differences are beyond scientific inquiry, they are spiritual differences.  Women are supposed to be nurturers of the home, that’s what the prophet says.  Okay, I say, that’s a different argument altogether.

So, onto argument number three.  The prophet says so, therefore God says so, end of story.  Not much to say there.  The prophet also prevented blacks from getting the priesthood until 1987.  Just something to chew on.

Perhaps some of you think that arguing about this topic is making mountains out of molehills.  After all, Mormon men are generally nice to Mormon women.  Their advice is usually at least consulted.  And, if Mormon women are happy, isn’t that enough?  Not really, not if it is really a matter of injustice.  I look at this now as an academic curiosity, an example of gender being theologized and ritualized, but I will tell you that when my infant daughter was born, I was none too happy about bringing her up in a culture in which every 12 year old boy learns about the great responsibilities he will bear with the Aaronic priesthood, while she gets a pat on the head. 

Yes, granted, there are some differences between men and women.  Women are physically smaller and weaker, bear children and have the primary responsibility for care (by nature).  That makes them seek security with their men, and I suppose the priesthood is one way by which women can feel that their men are being kept in check.  But another human need, besides security, is respect.  Both men and women need this– it is a human longing– to be taken seriously and to really matter.  This is why the priesthood for all males in Mormonism is such a draw to so many, but why it is such a travesty for all those girls wondering, in their hearts of hearts, if they are truly as important as their brothers.

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20 Responses to “Why Don’t Women Have the Priesthood?”

  1. ditchu said

    Women do participate in the preisthood.

    I am suprised that you do not know this.

    -D

  2. nebula0 said

    ditchu,

    Read my post closer. I mentioned how that works.

  3. ditchu said

    You are not as accurate as you think.

    Women participate in the Preisthood (the authority to act in the name of God) Here on this earth. It is inate in their creative power. The Preisthood is granted to men due to the relationship men have with God that differs with the relationship Women have with God, i.e. the creative power. Women have a closer connection to the creative forces in the universe inately but men must gain this connection.

    women also have some inhearited ability to serve people without being asked, men tend to need multipul promptings to offer survice. This is another aspect of the preisthood authority.

    Is that good enough for you?

    -D

  4. ditchu said

    Also not every active mormon male receives the arronic preisthood, and even of all that do not all at age 12. You have some “absolute” flaws in your statments.

    good day,
    -D

  5. nebula0 said

    ditchu,

    I find it interesting that you are grasping at straws. Every active… tada, worthy… male gets the priesthood. I assumed worthy with ‘active’ but yes I see that needn’t be.

    No, ditchu, the priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God. Being close to some ‘creative power’ doesn’t translate into ecclesiastical priesthood authority. Try again.

  6. ditchu said

    Hardly straws.

    If you make a statment to be assumed to be true you are remiss if you are not sure to make accurate statments.

    I find that the way you word these statments are not accurate and thus gives a false perception of Mormon practices.

    However, I do not blame you. It is obvious you are dicussing something that you only have a surface understanding about. this is shown by your comment: “Being close to some ‘creative power’ doesn’t translate into ecclesiastical priesthood authority.”

    I am takling about the power weilded by the Preisthood of God, it is the same creative power that was used to create the world and all in it. (of course you are welcome to reject this idea as with the belief of creation.)

    -D

  7. nebula0 said

    ditchu,

    There are very real social implications to the notion that women do NOT have priesthood authority. It’s very simple but you want to hide behind some vague notion of the Motherhood of women participating in creation with God– okay, nice, but that doesn’t deal with the question: what woman can perform a valid baptism? What woman can serve as a bishop of a ward? If those ‘creative powers’ do not translate into real social power and recognition, those powers are illusory.

  8. Seth R. said

    I think it wouldn’t be so bad if women were still allowed to do Priesthood blessings, like they were when the Relief Society was first organized under Joseph Smith. You know… blessing of healing, comfort, etc. Joseph was remarkably liberal that way.

    My own feeling is that Brigham Young squashed it on his own initiative, and, like blacks and the Priesthood, we’re still living with Brother Brigham’s excess baggage.

    We get into trouble as a Church whenever we stray too far from Joseph Smith, I’ve found.

  9. nebula0 said

    Seth,

    Those are interesting thoughts. I wouldn’t be surprised if Joseph hadn’t been killed, women’s priesthood authority was made more explicit with time because that’s the direction it was heading with him. When I think about the nascent, limited, priesthood women practice in the temple, combined with the fact that women gave blessings etc as you mention, this wouldn’t be so off the wall.

  10. ditchu said

    Clowdy,

    you asked me: “what woman can perform a valid baptism?”

    1. Women preforming Baptism: Every Mother giving Birth is Preforming a form of Baptism. In fact, Birth is a Physical Baptism, Born of the Flesh/the body. I’d say that is preaty Valid. this is an ordinance that cannot (without manuplation) be preformed by Men, but should be held in the same sacred and holy attitude that one should have on the Baptism of Water and Fire. Without this Baptism of the Flesh preformed by the Mother, we could not have the bodies to progress further in our Path to exaltation.

    then you ask: “What woman can serve as a bishop of a ward?”

    Women have special positions to serve in the ward, some cannot be served by men, like the Releif Society President. The Releif Society President is a ward calling but in many ways she weilds more Authority than the Bishop. She is more likely to report to the stake Level than the Bishop inless requesting help or informing the Bishop of the state of his ward. Some would not be too far off seeing her as the woman Bishop, but in some respect she is more.
    You could have asked me about the Prophet. Why do we not have a woman in the seat of Our Prophet? Well, I am not sure why God does not call more Women Prophets in this day, However, I do see that often we are quick to look at the Prophet and overlook his wife. I think is was best said by Gordon B. Hinkley, Husbands are not to have more control or power over their spouse, but it is a equal partnership… He has explained it better many times as the LDS Prophet than I can now, but the point is this: His wife shares in the responcibility of his position. From the New Testiment we find the representation of marrage: two become one. This is not only litteral but also symbolic, as a married man inharits some leadership in the Church his wife also inharits that Responcibility.

    then you said, “If those ‘creative powers’ do not translate into real social power and recognition, those powers are illusory.”

    Illusonary is the last word I would use when describing the Power, authority, and Majesty of My Mother, My Wife, or any woman I know. The Power and Authority are God given and Real, and all women deserve your highest respect. If it were not for woman, you would never have received a body, and likewise all of us would have to suffer the torment that satin and his followers have to endure by knowing they will never receive a physical Body.

    I think you may have wasted the many years, as a Mormon, that you had to learn and understand these things. That is very sad.

    -D

  11. nebula0 said

    ditchu,

    Now you’re making stuff up. Honestly it would be better if you just admit the fact that women do not have the priesthood than have to subvert to silly tactics and semantic games. I do appreciate the fact that you’re trying, in your own head, to carve out special importance for women and not just disregarding the topic altogether.

    1. Giving birth is not the same as baptizing converts into the church in the name of God. Birth is something that happense to non Mormon women as well as Mormon women, to ‘worthy’ women and well as ‘unworthy’ women and is not related to holding special powers conferred to her by another women due to her personal worthiness and preparedness.

    2. A RS president is not the bishop of the ward. The bishop usually listens to the RS president and gets her advice, but is under NO compulsion whatsoever to follow it. Hence, her real ecclesiastical power is minimal.

    3. I’m glad that you appreciate the women in your life, but you should also acknowledge that your opinions are just that, your opinions. When you ask a variety of people about this topic, you’ll get a wide variety of answers back. Yours is a subset of one of those answers which I addressed already in my original post: priesthood is akin to motherhood. It’s not. MOtherhood is akin to fatherhood. You participated, as do non Mormon, and non priesthood holding men in general, in the creation of your children. Your wife couldn’t have done it without you. It has nothing to do with the LDS church at all, it’s a part of the inherent natural order of the world. The priesthood, however, is directly related to the operating specifically of the LDS church.

    Do you see what I’m trying to get at??

  12. ditchu said

    If you are using a specific definition then defien it.
    Baptism is a birth. Thus we Christians often speak of someone who is Baptized being “Born into the Church” “Born again” “Born of the spirit” “Born of Fire” the terms go on.

    For the rest you may remain blind to the corrlation, it matters not to me.
    It is, however, not made up. This Perception on the Preisthood has been reinforced by a few teachings I have received in the LDS Church. I do allow that this is one slice of docturn and not a widly viewed perspective.

    -D

    Good day,

  13. nebula0 said

    ditchu,

    You’re ignoring my argument, why? Men have fatherhood. It is a great privelege and a wonder, just as motherhood truly is. Those who engage in those roles are blessed. But motherhood is not the equivalent of priesthood– fatherhood is. That is so glaringly obvious. As you pointed out, to be a priesthood holder you have to be active and a worthy LDS member. To be a father, you don’t have to be any of those things. Same thing with motherhood.

  14. ditchu said

    You have dismissed my reasoning without thought or attempt at understanding. I am not making any statments against Fatherhood. But where is the connection to the creation in fatherhood? Where is the devinity inhearent in the father? As you have asked me when any woman has preformed Baptism, I ask you when has any Father Preformed Birth?

    You state: “As you pointed out, to be a priesthood holder you have to be active and a worthy LDS member.” When did I point this out? If you are refering to my comment that not all Active Men are given the Preisthood then you have misunderstood my words, and infered some meaning that is not fully represented there. That statment was to correct your Absolute statment that all active men are given the Preisthood by the LDS Church, I want you to be aware that this is not so. Also worthyness is not up to anyone but God and the indivisual, however, sometimes a Bishop or church leader may receive understanding from God the the indivisual is not worthy. Far too often the Preisthood is not given to worthy men.

    -D

  15. nebula0 said

    ditchu,

    I mentioned the topic of motherhood in my opening post and how ti is often likened to priesthood. Fathers don’t give birth, you’re right, but you hardly have to be a Mormon woman to give birth, like you have to be an active, worthy man to hold the priesthood. They are not the same thing, one for men, one for women. That’s what I’m trying to get across here. The priesthood gives men authority to do things of consequence in the ecclesiastical organization that women cannot do by virtue of being women and not being able to hold the priesthood.

    It’s not Priesthood/Motherhood.
    It’s Fatherhood/Motherhood, Priesthood/?.

  16. ditchu said

    You think one must be an active member of the LDS faith to hold the Preisthood of God?

    Intresting, where did you get this philosophy?

    You think the Preisthood gives one the ability to “do things of consequence in the ecclesiastical organization?” What “things of consequence” are you refering to? Is not the birth and rearing of our children the most important thing we can do? More so that any office held in a church that I can think of. President David O. McKay remarked the true statment, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”

    What is paramount importance is shared by both Men and Women the raising and governing of the family. Your view of the Authority of women in the Church as “limmited” is misguided and untrue. After all, he who is master amoung us is our servant. Any position/Calling of leadership in the Church is not there for the person in that position to hold “Power” or their Authority over others, but is there for the service of those who are under that guidance and leadership. Again I think you are shortsighted in not seeing the corrilation with the “Power” of the Preisthood and that of the Mother/Woman. Again it in not to hold authority over others but to use that authority to serve others. Women have been dedicating themselvs to selfless service without any calling to the preisthood, men on the otherhand are more often self-centered and focused too much on themselves and their positions. this is only one of the reasons the Preisthood in emphasised for men, so they can understand their responcibility to help others in service.

    What you must know is that Fatherhood and Motherhood are not equal, nor the same. There are specific rolls that a Father is to hold but more there is a special bond that a mother has with her children that fathers do not share. It is up to the father then to do what he can to form his own bonds with his children.

    -D

  17. nebula0 said

    Ditchu,

    There’s no need to play semantic games. We both know what I’m talking about so let’s get to the topic and quit assuming from the outset that I’m out to damage you. In turn, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re open minded enough to hear from different points of views. Let’s see what happens. I don’t mind disagreement.

    If women are so darned important, why can’t they be bishops of your ward? It’s nice to say that priesthood is all about service, alright- that would work that way if we were automons, but to deny that we humans have an inner striving for public recognition and respect is to deny how we are made. You mention as much when you say that men are ‘more self centered’ and so require more public roles. Well, who is to say that women are really so much more different? That’s the debate. How different are women REALLY from men that it doesn’t matter if they get the priesthood or not?

    I disagree that Fathers can’t share an equally strong bond with their children as Mothers. What about all those stay at home dads out there? Can they really not do as good a job as their wives? If women have a stronger bond with their children after the infant stage, it’s because they spend more time with them in the first place as their primary care givers. When you switch the roles, you get strong bonding with both parents.

  18. ditchu said

    For one who does not mind disagreement you sure do twist someone’s statments around.

    Back to the topic at hand:
    You asked “who is to say that women are really so much more different?”
    You must not be married, or if you are you need to pay more attention to your wife if you cannot see any distinct differances.

    You stated: “I disagree that Fathers can’t share an equally strong bond with their children as Mothers.” Have you shared blood with your child, pumping it through your body and theirs and your’s again and…? As a Father i have never done this but My wife as a mother has. Does this create a bond that I will never have with my kid? Yes. Can I then never have a strong bond with him? No, That is not what I am saying, I can have a very strong bond with my kids but not the same bond as my wife. As God breathed life into man so does a Mother pulse life through her child. After that instant/moment does that bond go away? No, I would contend that it is a lasting bond that what was a direct physical connection though severed Physically in never quite severed Spiritually. Man still seeks after God/The-Devine. A child will cling to their Mother, usually in a much different way then they will bond with their Father.

    Is it about doing as good a job? No! There are bad Mothers out there and good Fathers as well as Bad Fathers and good Mothers.

    You have pointed out my argument well in: “When you switch the roles, you get strong bonding with both parents.”
    Even when the mother is not the Primary they retain the strong Bond that the Father must work to create.

    At last I must ask, do you know any woman who wants the Job as bishop of a ward? For that matter do you know of any Bishop that sought out the position?
    Most Bishops (every one that I know of) do not seek the position because before they are given it they start to see how emence and taxing the job is. What is the bennifit of such a leadership roll? Most smart people ask this question before wanting for a position and when they realize the bennifits are not Control and Authority over others, it loses its savor. Who wants such a position unless they are crazy or in truth only want to serve?

    -D
    -D

  19. Seth R. said

    I have a stronger connection with my oldest daughter. As my wife will freely admit.

  20. nebula0 said

    ditchu,

    That’s why I opened up the topic. See my newest post– it’s an open question, ARE women really THAT different? In any case, I asked the question in the context of desiring public recognition. Most of the women I know enjoy being publicly recognized and respected as much as men do.

    As Seth pointed out, different children can have different bonds with different parents. Normally boys have stronger bonds with fathers and girls stronger bonds with mothers and that makes sense from a biological perspective (they look to the same sex parent as their primary role model). Sometimes, through experience, personality etc., a daughter can have a stronger bond with her father, as Seth pointed out. What you are arguing could offend fathers as much as adoptive mothers. Sure, you have to work to create a bond, but so do natural mothers have to work to sustain the bonds they get through those early months nursing newborns. It’s not something that just automatically stays.

    Yes, I know plenty of women who would like to have the priesthood, and would accept the calling of bishop if they felt called to do so- because they want to serve in a greater capacity. So, my question is, why not? Isn’t it strange that women can’t? Don’t you find it odd?

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